Troy Baker, the original voice of Joel, returns to the world of The Last of Us in Episode 8 as James – but who is he in the show?
In our review of Episode 8, we called it a “thoroughly horrifying, heart-in-your-mouth TV experience” and a “start-to-finish thrill ride.”
It follows Ellie as she falls into the orbit of David (Scott Shepherd), the preacher and leader of a resort-turned-town called Silver Lake. He’s friendly, at first, but she soon discovers it was his men who attacked them at the university.
When she meets David, he’s accompanied by James, played by certifiable The Last of Us legend Troy Baker – let’s break down his character.
Slight spoilers for The Last of Us to follow…
Who is Troy Baker’s James in The Last of Us?
James is David’s right-hand man and confidant, generally viewed as second-in-command among the Silver Lake survivors.
His relationship with David is slightly different compared to the game, given David is a preacher and well-respected, as well as feared. In their first scene together, James expresses concerns about the town running out of food, to which David accuses him of doubting his leader.
In several scenes thereafter, James disagrees with David: he holds Ellie at gunpoint despite David telling him not to, and he tries to kill her after David gave strict orders to let her live. He argues it could be “god’s will” for her to die, but David gives him a hard stare in response.
Baker voiced Joel alongside Ashley Johnson as Ellie in the games, but he was under no illusion that he’d be cast in the same role in the show.
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“My goal with doing the show was that whoever played Joel would teach me something that I didn’t know about the character. Show me something that I missed. That’s what Pedro does. He shows me that Joel is bigger than any one performance,” he said.
“I am inspired by Pedro’s performance as Joel. I wish that I could go back and do some things different.”
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Neil Druckmann explained why the original stars couldn’t reprise their roles, and it’s quite obvious. “The unique thing about video games is you don’t need to look the part, which is why Ashley Johnson, when she was 27, was able to play a 14-year-old girl,” he said.
“Troy Baker at the time was this tall, skinny, bleached-hair hipster — but then when he spoke and moved, he became the role. That’s why we couldn’t cast those same people into these roles for the show, but they were instrumental in bringing those characters to life.”
The Last of Us Episode 9 will be available to watch on March 12 in the US and March 13 in the UK. Check out the rest of our coverage here.